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Keep fire safety in mind while decking the halls this holiday season

The ho-ho-holidays are upon us. Whether you’re feeling like Santa (Christmas music starts the day after Halloween!) or Scrooge (absolutely no decorating until December!) everyone needs to pay special attention to fire safety in this season of twinkling lights, overstuffed ovens and fresh cut trees.

Here in Wisconsin, the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin Charitable Foundation (PFFWCF) leads the way in promoting fire safety and delivering fire prevention information and education throughout the year. While candles and electrical cords are among the top causes of holiday home fires, everything from deepfrying a turkey to negligent tree care can be a hazard. In addition, the hectic nature of the holiday season means people are naturally looking for ways to save time and money, but it is critical not to cut corners when it comes to fire safety and prevention.

As you deck the halls this holiday season, follow these top five tips for holiday fire safety from PFFWCF:

• TREE: Practice top-notch tree care by making a fresh cut of the trunk before placing it in the stand; ensuring the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source; and water tree daily.

• LIGHTS: Only use lights that feature the label of a recognized testing laboratory, and ensure lights are approved for indoor or outdoor use depending on where you plan to hang them. Be sure to check old lights for worn cords or loose bulb connections – a sure sign it’s time for them to be replaced.

• CANDLES: While candles offer ambiance and wonderful holiday scents, they require a high degree of care and attention. Never leave candles unattended and never use candles on or near trees or garlands. Be especially careful with candles around young children and pets.

• DECORATIONS: If you tend toward Clark Griswold-style decorating, make sure none of your displays and decorations impede any pathways through your home or exits from your home.

• FAMILY: Be extra mindful of guests and high traffic in your home. Never leave items cooking unattended, especially when using open flame; store lighters and other hazardous items in a cabinet or on a high shelf to keep them away from curious kids; and plan your monthly fire alarm tests just in advance of having overnight houseguests.